The Mitteleurope Cultural Association was founded in Cervignano del Friuli (Italy) on October 26, 1974. The initiative was taken by of a group of citizens of the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region, with the awareness that the union of European peoples is a cultural imperative, a duty ensuing from over one thousand years of European History. Hence, from the very beginnings of its foundation, the Mitteleurope Cultural Association has devoted its efforts to projects aimed at fostering the process of European integration and at creating awareness of a European civil society. These goals are incorporated into the Association’s Constituent Act and Statute, which, in delineating its inspiring principles and associative aims, states as follows:
Art. 5 Awareness of, and responsibility for, the fact that the union of European peoples is a cultural imperative.
The Association holds that all activities promoting coexistence, mutual acquaintance, collaboration, assistance, and respect among different European ethnic groups and cultures play a crucial role in social solidarity. This role assumes even greater merit and importance when conducted in typically border- and multi-ethnic areas, such as those in which the Association aims at being most active. Our Association therefore devotes special effort towards:
Art. 6: The preservation and enhancement of the civil rights that derive from our ethnical, historical, and cultural identities as well as the rights of all other European nations, as a necessary condition for overcoming any current division.
Art. 7: With faith in European unity, the development of social solidarity activities, which help strengthen brotherly and sisterly bonds and cohabitation among all bordering nations, overcoming historical and current frontiers.
Art. 8:The promotion of, collaboration with, and support of cultural, scientific, artistic, and social co-operation projects, which are aimed at integrating and encouraging relations among nations and their institutions, by calling on the natural predisposition and international vocation of our peoples and the unique and strategic geographical position of our regions.
In function of these aims, the Association evinced its mission from the very beginning, by planning and developing initiatives targeted at promoting awareness of the strategic role of the geographic areas of the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region – and more generally, northeastern Italy – in strengthening dialogue and co-operation with Central-Eastern Europe and in the European integration of the citizens of these areas. These initiatives have always promoted, and will continue to promote, the aims of making the common cultural matrices of the macro-area that is now commonly referred to as Mitteleurope known and of sensitising all levels of public opinion to the need for its citizens to actively participate in the construction of the European Common Home.
To this end, the Association’s structure is organised with a Secretary General, who refers to an Executive Committee, with Territorial delegations.
From 1990 to 2008
the Mitteleurope Cultural Association has organised la Mitteleuropean People’s Festival – an event which has now become a traditional meeting of the Central-European peoples. The festival is held in the third week of August and attracts thousands of people each year—people brought together by a single common denominator: to rediscover and strengthen the brotherly and sisterly ties and bonds of co-existence, with the goal of building a great European Home together. Annual event highlights are a commemoration ceremony in honour of all soldiers who died in the 20th century’s fratricidal wars, a huge parade (with over five hundred participants) of traditionally-dressed groups from various Central-European regions, a mass held for the unity of European peoples, and convivial and festive moments with the participation of political and diplomatic authorities from various Central-European countries. Since several years, this meeting has been honoured with the sponsorship of the italian Government and the high patronage of the Central-European countries' embassies. The Holy Father too, Pope Benedict XVI, has shown his support and approval for the initiative, sending annual written messages.
the Association has published the quarterly magazine "MITTELEUROPA", duly registered with the Udine Court of Law with authorisation 12/9/1979. The magazine presents information on associative activities and European cultural news and is set out to members and to the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Region’s institutional and diplomatic delegations as well as to those of several Central-European countries. The editorial staff is composed of a professional journalist, a freelance journalist, and an historian, who collaborate in producing the magazine, which is printed in 1,500/2000 copies per issue. The staff is assisted by qualified and reputable authors representing various languages and cultures, who write on historical, religious, and diplomatic topics of European importance, with the aim of enhancing awareness of themes and topics linked to the construction of a European civil society.
the event took on a more profound European connotation by hosting a meeting of twinned towns, and of towns becoming twinned with the Mitteleuropean area (i.e., from Friuli-Venezia-Giulia [Italy], Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia). The meeting was financed by the European Commission and was characterised by a conference and a series of initiatives with the topic of “The music of oral tradition: an itinerary for discovering our common matrix in creating a European identity”. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture awarded the initiative with the Gold Star of Town Twinning.
From 1990 to 2008,
every year, in the first ten days of May, the Association has celebrated the Day of Remembrance - in memory of May 2, 1989, when the governments of Austria and Hungary took down the barbed wire dividing their two countries. The purpose was to symbolise the fall of the iron curtain and to promote the process of European reunification. The initiative has since been held in the main Mitteleuropean capitals and, in 2002, it was held in Rome, at the Slovakian Republic Embassy, in the presence of political, diplomatic, and religious authorities.
From 1996 to 2001
the Association has sponsored the Meeting of Internal Medicine of Mitteleuropean Nations, which is held in various Central-European countries. The purpose was to explore medical science as a means for discovering further foundations for constructive dialogue that fosters European integration.
the Association has organised the Mitteleuropean Christmas Carol Concert - a music festival devoted to presenting the variety and diversity of various European people’s musical expression in the unique and unitary atmosphere that the theme of Christmas represents
In 2001 the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Region’s Cultural Department accredited the Association as a prominent cultural organisation, including it in its list of organisations of regional interest
, the Association set up an international award in recognition of those special people, who over the course of their lives, have distinguished themselves for their outstanding qualities and activity in support of renewed brother-and sisterhood among the many small Peoples making up the magnificent European mosaic called “Mitteleurope”. Hence, the “Laudis et Honoris Signum” award was born, consisting in a precious decoration wrought in silver and gold, accompanied by a Latin-inscribed parchment. It is intended as a high honour, with international recognition. The Association confers the award annually to illustrious figures who have achieved excellence and special merit in their specific fields of expertise (Art, Economy, Music, Politics, Diplomacy, Literature and Poetry, Humanitarian deeds, etc…). Awardees are people who have contributed to the supranational Mitteleuropean ideal, promoting solid co-operation and cohesion among European Peoples, according to our Statute’s inspiring principles. In this sense we firmly believe that the spirit of brother- and sisterhood and our common cultural matrix, which has taken shape through centuries of civil coexistence, can represent a modern example and a tested model for a European union in which each of us can identify and feel part of.
From 2002 to 2004
From 2002 to 2004, the Association has hosted a three-year project entitled, “Aquileia: from a land of passage to a land of message”. The endeavour is financed by the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Region and focused on encouraging dialogue among Europe’s Christian cultures (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) as a contribution towards building a European culture based on co-existence and mutual respect. The 2002 edition of the project sponsored an international conference with the participation of scholars and historians as well as leading religious delegations representing the Roman Catholic Church; the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria; the Greek Orthodox Church, the Old-Catholic Church of Utrecht, and the Waldensian Church. The purpose was to promote an exchange of ideas on European religious history. It represented a sort of journey “backwards”, starting from extreme diversity and highly-varied individualities in search of a common identity, a cultural unity for constructing a new Europe.
The conference held in 2003 – entitled, “Aquileia between East and West: from its roots to its wings. A dialogue for Europe”—saw top-level representatives from the Roman Catholic Church; the Orthodox Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Russia, Serbia, Romania, and Greece; the Armenian Apostolic Church; and the Lutheran Church reflect on the importance of the role of laypersons in developing inter-Christian dialogue. Elements of division were also discussed, in an effort to discover our common foundations. All ecclesiastical authorities present were also taken on a study tour to the places of worship of the city of Trieste’s different Christian faiths.
In 2004 the discussion continued on the topic “Christian Spirituality and European Unity”, regarding the contribution of Christian spirituality to the unification process of Europe.
Participation was so significant that it has no precedents in Europe. In particular, His Eminence the Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík concluded the conference with a speech that amazed all the presents for its depth of thought and simplicity of expression, as he highlighted the important mission and function of Aquileja in Europe’s spirituality, both in the past and in the present.
the Association collaborated in organising several editions of Mittelfest – a festival of Central European prose, music, dance, poetry, visual arts, marionettes, and cinema (a significant event of European cultural scope, which has taken place every July since 1991 in Cividale del Friuli, Italy). The Association’s special function included organising an Honour Committee, made up of the Ambassadors and Ministers of Culture from the 19 countries contemplated in the Central European Initiative (C.E.I.).
On 23rd October, 2004 the association celebrated the 30th anniversary of its foundation with a ceremony held at the “Pasolini” Theatre in Cervignano del Friuli. This important and at the same time binding stage was also an occasion to recall the major events of the association’s activity amidst memories, emotions, images and stories. The significance of this ceremony was highlighted by the presence of numerous civil, religious and diplomatic authorities and representatives ( Read more).
the association has organized annual international conferences in the fields of politics, culture and economy on the topic of Euro-regions. The initiatives have been co-promoted and supported by the Councillor's Office for International Relations of the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Autonomous Region.
In 2005 the title was “Trans-border Harmonization: Economy, Finance and Fiscality in the Adriatic Euro-region”, in 2006 “Aquileia Euro-region: Trans-border Economy, Finance and Fiscality Integration Projects. An Euro-regional Financial System”.
In 2007 during the meeting entitled “From Europe of Nationalisms to Euro-Regions of Nationalities” has come forth a new idea of an European cultural project spacing along the pan-European corridor nr. 5 Lisboa-Kiev axis. In such frame, Mitteleuropa Association made itself responsible for development of projects involving areas from Friuli (Aquileia) to Ukraine and to the Balcans.
The 2007 meeting – with the presence of institutional and diplomatic representatives coming from nine European countries - confirmed the international value and consideration of such proposal and set up a project entitled “Pan-European Cultural Corridor nr. 5”.
During the 2008 conference, a dozen of concrete collaboration projects among Central-European and Balkan regions were formulated and many of them have been successfully accomplished.
At the 2009 forum, focusing on the role and contribution of Euro-regions to the political identity of Europe, an influential institutional and diplomatical attendance from 11 countries was registered. The number of participating countries has grown to 15 in 2010, to discuss on a topic that aroused relevant international interest: “Europe between Cohesion and Enlargement. States, Macro-Areas and Euro-Regions: A New Model of International Relations”.
The participation in the 2011 and 2012 forums confirmed the well-established success of the initiative, with titles “The ‘Mosaic’ of Europe and New World Empires – Realpolitik Uniting Regions” (2011) and Europe – Fragmentation or Recomposition? Duty and courage to speak about it (2012). This annual meeting has proven to be awaited and welcome among the European diplomats and institutions.
In 2013 the debate will regard the topic: “Europe: From Aachen to Frankfurt. A 1213-Year Long Political Path for a Journey of 255 km”.
In 2009, in collaboration with the Province of Udine and the National Association For Aquileia, the Mitteleuropa Association put together an exhibition on Aquileia – which was an important religious centre of Europe and seat of the former Aquileia Patriarchate in the past, and an important archeological site nowadays – situated in our region. Since November 2009, the exhibition “Aquileia – Crossroads of the Roman Empire” has been shown in Budapest, Cracow, Warsaw, Bratislava and Bruxelles.
In 2010, the Association joined a European project included in the Programme “Youth in Action”. In such framework, 20 young people from Italy and Poland met together in Cracow (Poland) for a workshop on intercultural communication.
In addition to these projects, the Association organises a multitude of activities at the single Delegation level (convivial meetings, festivals, and cultural and touristic dates). These initiatives have involved the Association’s over 1000 members and its thousands of supporters for over 30 years, and have always been distinguished by a steadfast vision of the European ideal.
All of this work—i.e., more than thirty years of uninterrupted activity and steadfastness of commitment, as demonstrated by hundreds of international initiatives in the most varied cultural milieus — has enabled the Mitteleurope Cultural Association to establish stable contacts and accredited relations with the regional and national public institutions, cultural associations, organisations, consulates and embassies of Central European countries, such as (and in particular) Austria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.